Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Filling in the Gaps

School for Discipleship and Renewal


Seminary does not and cannot prepare a person totally for the pastorate. I was better prepared to talk about Wesley’s view of sanctification than I was to conduct my first funeral. No one in seminary taught me the best way to use the coffee shop for ministry.

Apparently I am not alone, because people write books about this. In 1999 Angie Best-Boss wrote Surviving Your First Year as Pastor: What Seminary Couldn’t Teach You (Judson Press). And in 2011 James Emery White writes in the same vein with his book What They Didn’t Teach You in Seminary: 25 Lessons for Successful Ministry in Your Church (Baker Books).

The point isn’t that seminaries aren’t doing their job. The point is that effective ministers make a commitment to lifelong learning. Whatever knowledge or skills I need can be acquired. I have to seek out and make room in my life for learning. A proactive attitude towards lifelong learning is one of life’s most important skills.

I attended the Christmas Eve service at Lakeridge United Methodist Church in Lubbock, TX. Rev. Bill Couch is the founding pastor of the church that is now one of the largest in the Northwest Texas Conference. His proactive attitude towards lifelong learning has been crucial as he led the church from its beginnings and through its various phases up to the present.

The School for Discipleship and Renewal at United is developing online Lifelong Learning Modules. We want them to help fill in some of the gaps in pastoral formation, but we need to hear from pastors and graduates.

What are the greatest areas of need? With what knowledge or skills do you want help? I invite you to post your top five topics in the comments section of this blog. Together we can fill in the gaps and be more effective.


Rev. Mark Abbott, Ph.D.
Director of Non-Degree Programs




Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Leading for Transformation

The Pohly Center for Supervision and Leadership Formation
Leading for Transformation










We all desire to belong and have purpose.

As leaders, are we helping people find meaning and purpose?

Are we helping them know their value?

Too often in our culture the bottom line drives our decisions and treatment of others, even in the church.  We don’t have to look far in the headlines to discover examples of the lack of value placed on human life. 

What if we could lead with integrity in a way that helps people know their value? 

Value-Centered Leadership liberates people “to do what is required of them in the most effective and humane way possible” (Max DePree, Leadership is an Art).

How we lead does make a difference in our ability to effectively “equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12, CEB) and is critical to our churches and workplaces today. 

Value-Centered Leaders build Covenantal Community that endorses the concept of human dignity and value.  A covenant is a mutual agreement that clearly defines responsibilities of all people involved.  There is a commitment to shared ideas, procedures, goals, purpose and management process. 

Value-Centered Leaders know that we need one another to be most effective.  We embrace our differences and diversity even as we claim our shared commitments.  Caring relationships grow as people are empowered and equipped to serve using their unique gifts and talents.  We learn about each other through our shared experiences.  These relationships move beyond individuals and build stronger communities.

Supervisory conversations are a wonderful tool for transforming our church or workplace communities to ones that are value centered, covenantal and relational while centering on seeing God’s perspective and discerning God’s direction.  One of the Pohly Center’s signature courses, Principles and Practice of Supervision, is a great place to begin learning and practicing supervisory conversations.  Visit the Pohly Center on United’s website to learn more.

Ken Pohly says, “…the supervisory covenantal relationship releases a potential for new identity” (Transforming the Rough Places).  Our lives, the lives of those we work with and our communities are transformed through the process.










Rev. Debbie K. Roth
Director of the Pohly Center for Supervision and Leadership Formation

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Hispanic Christian Academy
A POSTURE OF TRANSFORMATION


It’s not about a certificate; it’s about a posture of transformation. Sit through a Hispanic/Latino worship time, and you’ll know what I mean.

Although “sit” is probably not the right word to use.

I was blessed and privileged to travel to Lubbock, TX, July 31-August 1 to meet with individuals from the Northwest Texas United Methodist Annual Conference. They welcomed my coworker and me to train both instructors as well as new and returning students to the Hispanic Christian Academy.

Let me explain what this is. The Hispanic Christian Academy is an online training program for laypersons to be part of a pastoral ministry team. Yes, it’s all online. That’s the beauty of it. Students join our program, ideally as part of a team of students from a specific region, and receive essential training in Bible, theology and practical ministry. Students can complete the 12 courses in 3 years. They work hard to receive their Certificates of Completion, but the Certificate doesn’t fully reflect the sacrifices they have made or the regular impact their learning has made in their ministries.

Northwest Texas Conference Hispanic/Latino Ministry


Most of our HCA students are already fully engaged in ministry in some capacity. They have families, full-time jobs and their church ministries. And yet they also carve out time to receive this training. They have experienced God’s transformation and have seen God at work in their families and communities. They are completely committed and devoted to God and God’s Kingdom work.

Maybe that is why they worship standing and not sitting; God has impacted their lives. Maybe that is why I was welcomed to jump in and join in their passionate and authentic worship--because we are doing Kingdom work together. Maybe they are compelled to rise to their feet in worship.

This group’s commitment to God has brought them to the HCA in order to deepen their understanding of Scripture and ministry. The HCA is not just an educational program. We hope it is a transformational journey.


How is God leading you to take your next step towards transformation? What has God done in your life that leads you to stand in worship?

To find out more about the Hispanic Christian Academy contact Erin Gildner at ergildner@united.edu or visit our website.









Erin Gildner
Coordinator of the Center for Hispanic/Latino Ministry

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Harriet L. Miller Women's Center 
BE A HERO! SAVE A LIFE!



I doubt if Linda thinks of herself as a hero, but that’s what she is. She saved her sister Kathy’s life. Kathy lived in another country and was a victim of abuse from her husband. After struggling for several years with making a decision to leave him or not, Kathy, after yet another beating, made arrangements to escape. As she and her eight-year-old son waited to depart from the airport, Kathy began to have self-doubts. “God doesn’t want marriages to break up. Am I doing the right thing? Maybe I should try again.” In this stage of self-doubt, she called her sister, Linda. After listening for a few minutes, with all the strength she could summon, she reached through the phone with the strongest voice of authority she could find and ordered her sister, “Get on the plane!” According to Kathy, that was all it took to break through her doubts – it was as if the voice of God spoke to her directly – and she boarded the plane back to the U.S. and to safety in a community with family and friends who continue to give her support. Linda is a hero. She saved Kathy’s life.

·      85 -95% of all domestic violence victims are female
·      About 1 out of 4 women will be abused by a partner in her lifetime.
·      Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the US;  more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined
·      A woman is beaten by her husband or partner every 15 seconds in the US
·      Police report that between 40% and 60% of the calls they receive are domestic violence disputes
·      50% of all homeless women and children in this country are fleeing domestic violence
·      The health-related costs of rape, physical assault, stalking and homicide by intimate      partners exceed $5.8 billion each year
·      In the US, more than 1200 women are killed each year by their intimate partner*
·      24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the U.S—over 12 million women & men during the course of a year**

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

  • Ask your pastor to preach on the issue of domestic violence so if there are persons in your congregation being abused, they will know their pastor is aware of this issue.
  • Publicize the domestic violence hotline in your church.
  • Make sure your pastor is aware of community resources for those experiencing violence and publicize those resources in your congregation.
  • Teach young people how to have healthy relationships ‐ ones that are free from violence.

Be intentional about lifting a voice of reason. And, if the occasion arises, let your voice reach across the distance and compel someone to safety. Be a hero and save a life.

*http://www.artemiscenter.org/dvfacts.php
**National Domestic Violence Hotline


If you or someone you know needs help, call 1800799SAFE.
Rev. Terry Heck
Director of the Harriet L. Miller Women's Center